News
Valdes and Alonso. Photo by Nancy Reyes, courtesy BNC

Alicia Alonso's famed ballet company in Cuba has a new leader: the beloved hometown prima ballerina Viengsay Valdés.

Ballet Nacional of Cuba just named Valdés deputy artistic director, which means she will immediately assume the daily responsibilities of running the company. Alonso, 98, will retain the title of general director, but in practice, Valdés will be the one making all the artistic decisions.

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Dance & Science
Amar Odeh/Unsplash

Back in 2011, Yale University's dean of science was thinking about refreshing the program's offerings for non-majors when he happened upon a Pilobolus performance. A light bulb went off: Dance is full of physics.

That realization led to what has become an eight-year collaboration between particle physicist Sarah Demers and former New York City Ballet dancer Emily Coates, both professors at Yale who were brought together to co-teach a course called The Physics of Dance. Their partnership has involved everything from directing a short film to presenting a TedX Talk and performing a piece that Coates created, commissioned by Danspace Project. This month, they're publishing a book about what they've discovered by dialoging across two seemingly disparate disciplines.

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The Creative Process
Company Wayne McGregor dancers follow an avatar's instructions for movement at the Google Arts and Culture Lab. Screenshot via experiments.withgoogle.com

When coming up with phrases of movement, choreographers all have their habits: certain patterns they return to again and again, tendencies that repeat themselves whether they mean for them to or not.

What if artificial intelligence could be used to help choreographers mix things up by suggesting thousands of other options—and ones that still fit their choreographic style, no less?

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Dancer Voices
Outtakes from Dance Magazine cover shoots, shot by Nathan Sayers, Jayme Thornton and Quinn Wharton

It's that time again: Everyone's looking at the year to come and thinking about what they might want to get out of it.

So we asked our cover stars from Dance Magazine's 2018 issues what they're hoping for. Their answers spanned everything from more growth and more touring, to more family time and more rest.

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The Creative Process
Hallberg describes dancing with Osipova as "a bit like an addiction." Photo by Stephanie Berger, courtesy Sadler's Wells

On the surface, intercontinental ballet stars David Hallberg and Natalia Osipova would seem to make unlikely partners. He's an American paragon of elegant princeliness; she's an explosive Russian powerhouse who seems to mock the laws of gravity.

But since they first danced together in 2009, they've moved audiences to tears as Romeo and Juliet, and sent chills through spines as Giselle and Albrecht. Whether at American Ballet Theatre, The Royal or the Bolshoi, each time they're together they bring out new depths in each other's artistry.

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Health & Body

Tamisha Guy has always loved pushing her body. The dynamic A.I.M dancer and rehearsal director performs like she has no limits. And she's recently taken up a sport that pushes her even further: boxing.

Two or three times a week, she takes a 45-minute class at New York City boxing studios Shadowbox or EverybodyFights. Workouts include a warm-up of core exercises and body-weight strength training. "Then we put the gloves on and go at it on the bag," says Guy.

Tamisha Guy in Kyle Abraham's The Gettin'. Photo by Jerry and Lois Photography, courtesy A.I.M.

Although she was initially afraid that the workouts would bulk up her already muscular physique, she's found they've simply added definition to her arms. More importantly, they've improved her stamina.

"Thirty minutes into class is usually the point where you're like, 'I can't punch anything else,' but you have 15 more minutes to go," she says. "It's just like when you've been dancing for an hour and have to dig deeper to find something in yourself to stay present. Pushing through the uncomfortable part is so gratifying." She feels boxing has put extra fire in her to keep up the intensity onstage.

Her favorite time to box is in the morning. "I find I have more energy going into rehearsals after boxing," she says. "I feel so ready to take on my day."

But if she's got more than four hours of rehearsal, she'll wait to box until after dancing so that her arms aren't overly fatigued. "Then, if I still have a little fight in me, I might take an evening class."

Tamisha Guy is also working to start a side hustle as a fitness model. "You're only young once," she says. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy Guy.

For now, she's not looking to enter any fights. "I think I'm gonna stick with the bag," she says, laughing.

Though she admits she loves the feeling of being in a ring. "I've had a few private training sessions inside it, with my trainer calling out sequences," she says. "But he wasn't hitting me back!

Breaking Stereotypes
Thoughts on gender have evolved since Louis XIV's era. Maybe it's time training evolves too. Photo by Matthew Murphy for Pointe.

Next semester, there'll be a new course name on the syllabus of Boston Conservatory at Berklee: "Constructed Gender Identities in Classical Ballet: Men's Variations."

But this is not a new course, just a new title. The old name is one you might recognize: "Men's Class."

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Career Advice
Ballet Austin's corps in Snow Scene. Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood, courtesy Ballet Austin.

Few people who are busier during the holidays than corps members of American ballet companies. December is officially Nutcracker season—a company's chance to earn a huge chunk of their revenue for the year, and a dancer's chance to go a little, ahem, nuts, waltzing and swallowing fake snow night after night for weeks on end.

But Nutcracker can also be an opportunity like no other, and for some corps members, it's the highlight of their year. Five dancers told us what helps them get through it all.

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The Creative Process
Rami Malek performing as Freddie Mercury. Still from Bohemian Rhapsody, via foxmovies.com

Watching Bohemian Rhapsody through the eyes of dancer, there's a certain element of the movie that's impossible to ignore: Rami Malek's physical performance of Freddie Mercury. The way he so completely embodies the nuances of the rock star is simply mind-blowing. We had to learn how he did it, so we called up Polly Bennett, the movement director who coached him through the entire process.

In a bit of serendipitous timing, while we were on the phone, she got a text from Malek that he had just been nominated for a Golden Globe. And during our chat, it became quite clear that she had obviously been a major part of that—more than we could have ever imagined.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Misty Copeland opened the 2018 Dance Magazine Awards. Photo by Christopher Duggan.

What does it mean to be human? Well, many things. But if you were at the Dance Magazine Awards last night, you could argue that to be human is to dance. Speeches about the powerful humanity of our art form were backed up with performances by incredible dancers hailing from everywhere from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago to Miami City Ballet.

Misty Copeland started off the celebration. A self-professed "Dance Magazine connoisseur from the age of 13," she not only spoke about how excited she was to be in a room full of dancers, but also—having just come from Dance Theatre of Harlem's memorial for Arthur Mitchell—what she saw as their duty: "We all in this room hold a responsibility to use this art for good," she said. "Dance unifies, so let's get to work."

That sentiment was repeated throughout the night.

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Career Advice
Travis and Mallory Walker, their daughter and dog with their first bottling of 2017 Rosé of Syrah. Photo courtesy the Walkers

Most dancers' second careers involve something like teaching dance. Or choreographing dance, or photographing it. But Travis and Mallory Walker went in a totally different direction.

Yet the couple sees winemaking as an extension of their dance life.

"There's not as much makeup involved and the costumes are a little different, but you still have an audience you hope that you move in some way," says Mallory. "You put a lot of work into it, but when the performance comes, or the wine comes out of the barrels, you never know how it will be received."

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Viral Videos
Jumps like these don't come without hours of sweat. Photo via Pinterest.

If you haven't discovered it by now, Kurt Froman's Instagram account has become a treasure trove of amazing ballet footage.

Recently, he's been posting clips of Gelsey Kirkland rehearsing Don Quixote, most likely taken a couple years after she joined American Ballet Theatre. You can watch her breaking down each step, working with her ballet coach David Howard as well as a flamenco coach, and giving herself notes by speaking directly to the camera.

Froman says the full footage is about an hour long (he acquired it a couple decades ago when he was still dancing for New York City Ballet). "When watching the entire disc, what becomes obvious is the inexhaustible, obsessive detail work," he wrote me in an email. "She sets the bar extremely high and I'm not sure she was ever equaled. All that Balanchine technique is still alive in her body, and she's very good to bring all the flamenco influences into her interpretation."

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Health & Body
Sinking into positions when you're not aligned isn't doing you any favors. Photo by Getty Images

When it comes to flexibility, more isn't always better. Donna Flagg says that many of the dancers who show up at her Lastics Stretch Technique classes at studios like Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway are already hypermobile.

"They're so loose," she says, "they just yank their legs as far as they can." That's not to say that hypermobile dancers shouldn't stretch—they just need to take extra care to keep their joints safe. Flagg recommends a few guidelines:

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What Dancers Eat
Dancers often make the best chefs. Photo by Quinn Wharton

Tired of the typical turkey and stuffing? For Thanksgiving this year, try something different with these personal recipes that dancers have shared with Dance Magazine. The ingredients are packed with dancer-friendly nutrients to help you recover from rehearsals and fuel up for the holiday performances ahead.

If anyone raises an eyebrow at your unconventional choices, just remind them that dancers are allowed to take some artistic license!

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Dance & Science
Simulations of An's "Marie . T" prosthetic design, via jaehyunan.com

There's a new tool that lets amputee ballet dancers perform on pointe. As reported in Dezeen, an architecture and design magazine, industrial designer Jae-Hyun An has created a prosthesis he calls the "Marie . T" (after Marie Taglioni, of course) that allows dancers with below-the-knee amputations to do pointe work.

A carbon fiber calf absorbs shock while a stainless steel toe and rubber platform allow a dancer to both turn and grip the floor to maintain balance. What it doesn't allow the dancer to do? Roll down to demi-pointe or flat.

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In Memoriam
Linda Tarnay. Photo by Chuck Delaney, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives

Former chair of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts dance department Linda Tarnay died on Tuesday, November 6. Her wish was to have her ashes interred in the columbarium at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery—the site of Danspace Project and just a few blocks away from the Tisch dance building.

Before her 35 years of teaching at NYU, Tarnay was a founding member of Dance Theater Workshop. She performed with choreographers like Anna Sokolow, Phyllis Lamhut and Jamie Cunningham. She also started her own company, Linda Tarnay and Dancers, and was an artist-in-residence at The Yard.

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The Creative Process
Photo by Earl Wilson, courtesy Macaulay

During his tenure at The New York Times, Alastair Macaulay has not been accused of being timid. Or boring. As the newspaper's chief dance critic, he has probably been the most talked-about writer in the dance world. His raves and his pans have become their own news; his words have led to as much chatter backstage as on social media.

At the end of this year, he's passing the baton along to a new critic. (His replacement hasn't yet been announced.) Although he'll still contribute to the Times' dance section through 2019, he says he wants to spend more time in his native UK, and work on a wider variety of projects, including several books.

Before he departs from his post, we took the opportunity to ask him a few of our most burning questions, and he agreed to respond over email.

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Dance Training
Modern class at Dance Prix de New York's precursor, Indianapolis International Ballet Competition. Photo by Natalie Lowder, courtesy DPNY

Ever dreamed of dancing in the companies of modern or post-modern dance giants like José Limón, Paul Taylor or Trisha Brown? Then it might be time to enter a dance competition.

Yes, you read that right.

Probably the last genre of dance you'd ever expect there to be a competition for now has its own track at the Dance Prix de New York.

The competition debuts this March, led by Seán Curran, chair of New York University's Tisch Dance department and Jolinda Menendez, a former American Ballet Theatre dancer who now teaches at Tisch (where all the rounds take place). There's both a classical and a contemporary track—although the "contemporary" category isn't what you'd usually expect to see when you hear that word at competitions. Rather than tilts or round offs, the focus will be placed on more subtle modes of movement.

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Health & Body
The right tools can keep your body in peak shape. Photo courtesy Hugger Mugger

Dancers will do just about anything to increase their odds of staying injury-free. And there are plenty of products out there claiming that they can help you do just that. But which actually work?

We asked for recommendations from four experts: Martt Lawrence, who teaches Pilates to dancers in San Francisco; Lisa-Marie Lewis, who teaches yoga at The Ailey Extension in New York City; physical therapist Alexis Sams, who treats dancers at her clinic in Phoenix; and stretch training coach Vicente Hernandez, who teaches at The School of Pennsylvania Ballet.

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Playlists
Bobbi Jene Smith, photographed by Jayme Thornton

At our cover shoot for the November issue, Bobbi Jene Smith curated one of the best lineups of YouTube music videos that I've heard in a long time. From Bob Dylan to Tom Waits, they felt like such perfect choices for her earthy, visceral movement and soulful approach to dance.

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The Creative Process
Cherkaoui is happy dedicating his time to projects he's invested in. Photo by Koen Broos, courtesy Michelle Tabnick PR

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is a busy man. These days, when he's not directing Royal Ballet of Flanders or his contemporary company Eastman, he's working on a new duet with Irish dancer Colin Dunne, creating a premiere for the Göteborg Opera, or choreographing on Beyoncé like it's NBD.

Next week, he's also taking a trip to New York City to perform in Sutra, his hit collaboration with a group of 20 Shaolin monks. In the 10 years since its premiere, the work has been performed in 60 cities across 28 countries to rave reviews and sold-out audiences. The New York performances at the White Light Festival mark a homecoming to the same festival where the piece received its US premiere.

We recently caught up with Cherkaoui to hear his thoughts on performing on the opening night of the run, what he's learned from the monks and how he manages to juggle so many projects at once.

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